Headed to Clearwater or Clearwater Beach, FL, and want the scoop on the best freebies when you visit? From shelling to gorgeous nightly views, here are the best free things to do in Clearwater and vicinity!
Clearwater Beach is one of those places that blew me away when I visited this year. I mean, I knew about the pristine, sugar sand beach that folks flock to year round. But, what I didn’t know about were all of the freebies to take advantage of! Here are my favorite ways to save some serious cash:
1. Play on a Sugar Sand Beach
Sure, you can rent a beach cabana for the day, but you don’t have to. Head to the beach with your beach chairs, towels, and even a picnic basket (no grilling!). There are several on-beach dining options as well in case you don’t want to pack a lunch, too.
The waves are clam on most parts of the beach, but there are spots that are very calm. If you have younger kids, make sure to look for those. When I visited with my teen daughter, it was such a bonding time for us. We sat at water’s edge and looked for shells for hours.
2. Pier 60 Sunset Festival
Sunrises and sunsets are my favorite times of the day. Not only are they beautiful, especially when watching them from a beach, they’re my daily pivotal points to take note. Clearwater Beach knows how gorg the sunsets are there. So why not make a nightly festival out of them, right?
Right. While any view along the beach will be stunning, the nightly Pier 60 Sunset Festival is a way to celebrate the beauty. And, if you’ve been on the beach all day, it’s the perfect way to end your visit. The festival is very laid back and is good for couples, families – you name it. Head to Pier 60 around dinner time and you’ll find local craftsmen selling their goods (most are beach-themed). Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of shops in the area to buy souvenirs, but there’s something to be written about knowing a local made mine.
3. Sugar Sand Festival
Mid-April is when Clearwater Beach’s Annual Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival hits the beach. What’s sugar sand? It’s that pristinely-white, sugary textured sand that has made Clearwater Beach “The Best Beach in the U.S.” by so many. And Pier 60 is the spot that pulls it all together.
The Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival is one of those yearly events that is just so fun and has so many cool things to check out, it’s hard to believe it’s free. There are nightly fireworks, sand sculpting classes, buskers showing off their talents, live jazz concerts, and Movies on the Beach.
4. Seaside Seabird Sanctuary
A non-profit organization, Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is all about the rescue & rehab of wild birds in Indian Shores. Whether sick, orphaned, or injured, each that gets healthy is either released or made a permanent resident.
If you’d like to visit, the Sanctuary is open seven days a week, excluding holidays. While visiting is always free, donations are graciously accepted.
5. Brooker Creek Preserve
8,500 acres. 6,000 square feet of exhibits. Add in an object theater with holographic residents ready to teach area history, a six-mile horseback trail, and free nature hikes on weekends and you’ve got Brooker Creek Nature Preserve.
Located just east of Tarpon Springs, the Preserve is a fun way to learn about wetlands and the inhabitants that call them home.
Getting to Clearwater Beach, FL
If you’re headed into Central Florida for Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando and want to head down to Clearwater Beach, it’s about a 90-minute drive in ideal traffic. When we visited, it was peak travel season so it took just under two hours. If you’re flying in, Tampa International Airport is probably your best bet. You can rent a car from there and it’s about a 30-minute drive to the beach.
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the fab folks at Visit Clearwater, Florida. All opinions are my own!